Last week Europe was rocked by a tragic terrorist attack that will have far reaching implications on the cultural and political future of the continent. We saw football matches targeted, the death toll and the barbarity of the acts of deluded criminals shocked the world.
The reaction to this acts from the football community made me immensely proud.
Normally the reaction I get when I tell people I am a huge football fan that travels home and away to watch my team is mixed, football fans have a polarised reputation. However the reaction of the football community to the Paris attacks brought a tear to my eye and made me proud to be associated in even a minor way to the beautiful game.
The events at Wembley were inspiring as the 80,000 in the stadium and the millions watching at home came together to show solidarity with the people of Paris. Watching the singing of the French national anthem on TV was spine tingling and a brilliant way of showing support, illustrating how football can bring people together.
However the announcement that the French national anthem will be played before each Premier League game left me cold. It just seems like the Premier League does not want to miss out on a good PR opportunity and is playing on the grief and support for Paris. The way that we beat terrorism is by staying strong, dusting ourselves down and moving on, rather than this populist move to capitalise on the goodwill of ordinary people.
The tribute at Wembley worked because it was natural, the playing of anthems at national sporting events is a well established tradition. There was a natural opportunity for England fans to show their support
The move by the Premier League seems forced, something that will not have the symbolism or the impact of the voluntary actions of the people at Wembley Stadium earlier in the week. Jumping on the grief bandwagon of a national disaster does not feel right to me.
Grief and solidarity are not exercises in corporate “me too” the football world has shown its support for those affected and our determination not to let the terrorists win, now is time to move forwards and playing the French anthem does not do that.
Whilst my heart goes out to those affected by terror, for the reasons stated above I will not be singing the French national anthem tomorrow.